There were days when he wished he was blissfully ignorant about black holes, wormholes, time travel, robots, and artificial intelligence, but today was not one of those days. It started hours earlier when SARAH woke him at 02:47 in the morning from a particularly good night's sleep, bringing the lights up high in the room.
"I'm sorry to wake you, Sheriff, but your presence is needed in the Time Maintenance laboratory immediately."
"What? Really? I hate that room," he muttered as he dragged himself out of bed and started to pull on his uniform. "Erh, SARAH? Coffee?" he asked.
"Sorry, Sheriff, there's no time."
"No time, and yet I'm heading to the Time Maintenance laboratory," he growled, aware of the irony.
Maybe he could grab a Vinspresso on the way through town, he thought, only to remember it was 3am. Maybe science never slept but Vincent needed to sometime! It never hurt to check though, and if not there was always the not-so-great coffee machine in the restaurant at Global, or he could sneak into Henry's office for the better stuff. By now he was halfway through the small town and he sighed in relief when he spotted the lights on at Cafe Diem.
"Oh thank God," he exclaimed, grabbing the closest parking bay and practically leaping out.
Vincent looked up when he entered. "You're early, Sheriff," but he smiled in welcome.
"Yeah, needed up at Global."
"Vinspresso to go?" Vincent replied in sympathy.
"You read my mind."
Two minutes later he was back in his car and heading to Global feeling the warmth of a freshly brewed Vinspresso dispelling the tiredness of the interrupted night's sleep. He rushed through the atrium to the elevator, using the time it took to descend to the lower levels to take several more gulps of coffee just in case someone snatched it out of his hands and called it a safety hazard when he reached the laboratory. Oh yeah, that had happened once or twice before.
Jack paused just outside the Time Maintenance laboratory. He really did hate this room, carrying the guilt of Nathan's death ever since that tragic day exactly four years earlier.
The door opened to a hive of activity. Henry looked up from the console where he was working side-by-side with Trevor Grant, the town's benefactor and another resident genius who caused him no end of trouble. Allison was standing by the time chamber, her hand pressed against its surface as white pinpoints of light danced inside. He hadn't seen her since the weekend when he dropped the kids back at the house she shared with Grant these days after their marriage broke up. The anticipation and desire of being married turned out to not be as great as the reality for either of them but at least they'd parted as good friends.
"What's going on?" he asked Henry, as he could rely on Henry to dumb it down for him.
"We're bringing back, Nathan. The timings right, and all we need is someone who'd been affected by the time loops to anchor it all to the present."
"And that's you, Old Sport," Grant added.
The rest went over his head, technical jargon on black holes and wormholes, and something about SARAH and Andy doing most of the math. Jack wished he'd asked for a shot whiskey in his Vinspresso as the dancing white lights began to reform into a human shape - Nathan's shape, maybe? He was told to hold onto something attached to the console, wincing as it heated slightly beyond pleasurable but determined not to let go until he was told. Small details began to fill in; the curly, dark hair, the soft smile that had replaced the usual fatuous grin on this last occasion. It all solidified into a familiar form, all the machines stopping abruptly, and the door seal hissing as the smile faded. Nathan shook his head and stepped out.
"Allison?" She moved towards him but Nathan was already turning away, searching... for him. "Where's Jack?"
Nathan turned to him immediately, eyes running down the length of Jack's body as if assessing him for injuries. The tension noticeably leached out of Nathan when he realized Jack was fine. Tired, yeah, but not sporting any injuries right now for a change despite the town's best attempts to kill him on an almost daily basis.
"Jack," he murmured, and before Jack could respond he had an armful of Nathan Stark and was being kissed to within an inch of his life.
Finally he managed to pull back, lips still tingling as he murmured, "So that was totally unexpected." And yet it hadn't felt wrong at all, as if his body knew Nathan's touch even though Jack had no memory of any previous closeness.
"Hmm... maybe not so unexpected," Henry stated with a wide smile.
Later Jack figured out this was where the time travel came into it, and something about dissections, or was it bisections of alternate universes and other blah, blah, blah words that meant something to the brainiacs in the town but were meaningless to Jack. All that mattered to Jack was Nathan's safe return, and the way he fit so perfectly in Jack's arms from that day forward.